People should get off the streets and stay indoors to limit the spread of Covid-19, the national security minister warned yesterday.
Wayne Caines said he was “concerned” that people continued to carry on normal business after the first cases were confirmed.
He added that spending time in bars and clubs could speed up the transmission of the virus.
Mr Caines said: “There is an opportunity for us to realise that, if you do not need to be on the road, if you are not a part of the essential services, if you are not helping out with any Covid-19-related activities, you need to be at home and inside your premises.”
He added that “the people of Bermuda” needed to know that they had to be “off the road and ... indoors” to prevent the spread of the virus.
Mr Caines said: “There will be some people in the emergency services and the essential services that will have to go to work.
“We know that people have family members, people have loved ones, people have a community of support and we have to call on the good grace of those in our community to help out at this specific time.
“As the Minister of National Security, I have to say again, we have to reduce our want and our desire to socialise openly.
“That means drinking in bars, socialising in restaurants, being at specific clubs; that must stop with immediate effect.
“We believe that those activities at this point will accelerate community transmission.”
Mr Caines warned that if people ignored advice it could be that “things will have to escalate” and there would “come a time to use the force of law”.
He explained: “We need to make sure that people are out of harm’s way and that they are off the streets and that they are home.
“We cannot specifically tell you what that looks like for your family, specifically. We can tell you that this is an opportunity to show the best of who we are and we must help and look out for each other.
He said that the Government had advised bars, social clubs, restaurants, gyms and other social venues “to significantly scale down their operations and enforce social-distancing”.
Mr Caines added: “Essential retail outlets will continue to operate, such as food and medicines.”
He said hotels had been organised to offer accommodation for mandatory 14-day quarantines for returned residents who could not self-quarantine.
Five buses will be dispatched to the airport to meet some of the last flights before the airport closes tonight and will transport people who need accommodation to hotels, which he declined to name.
Soldiers from the Royal Bermuda Regiment will organise the transport of passengers and extra police officers will assist with the transfer.
Mr Caines emphasised: “We are not forcing anyone into quarantine. Many returning students have said they might not have a facility in the home for self-quarantine.
“This is not mandatory; people will not be herded off a plane and forced into a facility. It is 100 per cent voluntary.”
Mr Caines added that some Bermudians on cruise ships were still trying to return home.
He said: “We are working with Government House to get them home. Once we are successful bringing them back, they too will have to go into 14-day self-quarantine.”
Mr Caines said the docks would operate as normal but cruises and pleasure vessels would not be allowed into port.
Guidance published on the Government of Bermuda website explained that social distancing was “a way to prevent and reduce the spread of infection like influenza and Covid-19”.
It said: “Social distancing means putting space between yourself and others.
“It means maintaining a distance of at least one metre — three feet — from others and avoiding mass gatherings and other events and places where people gather.”
A “red light” list of what to avoid included visitors and non-essential workers in people’s home, and non-essential visitors in workplaces.
Shopping supermarkets and collection of medicines from pharmacies — without a crowd — were on a “yellow light, do with caution” list.
The “green light, safe to do” list included playing in a home garden and cooking meals at home.
The Government website at 4pm yesterday showed that the number of positive Covid-19 test results remained unchanged at two.
There were also 15 tests where results had not come back.
The website added that 18 people were in self-quarantine with active monitoring, 468 people were in self-quarantine with public health supervision and 651 were self-monitoring with public health supervision.
David Burt, the Premier, announced on Wednesday that two residents had the virus which has caused a pandemic.
One arrived on the island on March 4 on American Airlines flight 308 from Miami and the other arrived on the British Airways flight on March 6.
The cases were unconnected and neither resident needed hospitalisation, although they are in isolation.
For more information about Covid-19 visit gov.bm/coronavirus
• To see the Government’s guide to social-distancing and Wayne Caines’s prepared statement for the EMO press conference, click on the PDF links under “Related Media”